Welcome news for Wi-Fi fans, but possibly less welcome for mobile operators, will be the recent decision by Brazilian regulator Anatel to approve public consultation on the technical requirements for allowing Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band.
According to the Wi-Fi Now website, Anatel representatives voted five to zero in favour of releasing for public consultation new rules proposing the allocation of 1.2 GHz of new Wi-Fi spectrum. The public consultation is open for comment for 45 days.
This could be a setback for operators. During the past weeks and months, Anatel has been under pressure from mobile industry interest groups to restrict the consultation to include only the lower 500 MHz of the 6 GHz band.
Indeed, the GSMA website recently featured a strongly worded piece by two senior figures on the topic. Among its arguments, it said that the availability of sufficient mid-band spectrum such as 6 GHz will impact on the ability of 5G to close the digital divide because it can decrease network density and lower the cost of broadband.
The article pointed out that the GSMA supports a balanced development of 6 GHz in Brazil, allowing spectrum for both Wi-Fi and 5G. However, while this may happen in some countries, Brazil looks likely to release the full 1.2 GHz of 6 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi, following the example of the US, Korea and Chile.
In defence of this move, an Anatel representative pointed out that by 2023 Brazil will have more than 750 million connected devices, while the number of Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to increase by around 500 percent. This, it was suggested, will make it necessary to open up new spectrum for Wi-Fi devices in order to avoid congestion in the existing band.